Tongues in 1 Corinthians 12 &13
Before we take a look at tongues in 1 Corinthians, let’s recap what we learned about tongues in the Book of Acts.
- There was no need for tongues to be used to preach the Gospel. There were common languages spoken during the time of Acts. There is no mention of tongues being used to preach the Gospel.
- When tongues/unknown or other languages is mentioned in the Book of Acts, the people were either speaking of the mighty works of God or prophesying.
- There were times when tongues were spoken and the Bible does not say if the tongues were understood.
- Each time tongues are mentioned, they are associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
It would appear that in the Book of Acts that tongues were the evidence that the baptism of the Holy Spirit had occurred.
Now let’s look at tongues in 1 Corinthians
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 10-11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:10 (AMP)
10 To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.
According to 1 Cor 12, the speaking in tongues is a gift and there is the gift to have the ability to interpret tongues. The tongues are described as various kinds or unknown tongues. It would appear that the gift of tongues is different than the tongues associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The reason why is that 1 Cor 12:11 says God will give the gifts to whom He wills. In the Book of Acts, it appears that all received the ability to speak in tongues when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31
28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
Here is another example of tongues as a gift and that not everyone will have the gift of tongues or to interpret. The context is tongues associated with other gifts. Notice it is not associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So again, it would appear there are two types of tongues. Or maybe same type of tongues but used differently.
Looking at the context, tongues were to be a sign/wonder just like the other gifts. They may be associated with the preaching fo the Gospel, just like the other gifts, but nothing hints at tongues being used to preach the Gospel. It would appear that there is tongues and then the interpretation of those tongues.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Note: vs 1 is not saying that tongues is bad. It does say tongues without love is bad. Just like the gift of prophecy, knowledge, and faith are not bad in themselves, but without love they are bad.
1 Corinthians 13:8-12
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
When will the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge be done away? Wehen the perfect comes. What is the perfect? When we see God face to face, when we fully know when we are known. This is obviously not talking about today’s generation or past generations because we do not fully know, we have seen God, and the perfect has not come. These events will not take place until we have our glorified body. So the gifts, including, tongues do not cease until the end of the age. If tongues were for the preaching of the Gospel (nowhere in Scripture does it say or insinuate such), then they would still be needed today for preaching since the end has not come, thus tongues would still be for today.
It appears from Acts and 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 that there may be two different types of tongues or the same tongues for different purposes. Nowhere does it appear that tognues are for the preaching of the Gospel. It does appear that tongues are evidence for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to be used as a gift like the other gifts-for signs and wonders. Nothing in the Bible says that the signs and wonders have been done away with or are not needed. If anything they are needed more than ever, because there is much less faith today in our society than in the past. However, there is also at the same time more hunger for the miraculous today than in the past. So people are open to even false miracles, thus more of a need for true miracles to reveal God is more powerful than Satan and psychics.
1 Cor 13 does not come against tongues, only the use of tongues without love.
In our next study we will see what 1 Corinthians 14 says about tongues.